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Candidate Michael Leahy, (Irish Freedom Party) looks on at the Clare General Election 2020 count in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon. Photograph by John Kelly.

Online jibes draw attention to Ennis EU candidate

An Ennis EU candidate has raised a few eyebrows with the phraseology he used to describe President Michael D Higgins as “The National Leprechaun” and the “performing flea of Irish politics” in a recent tweet on social media.
Commenting on a story headlined “President: It is not essential to own a home”, Michael Leahy stated on X (formerly twitter):
“The National Leprechaun, the performing flea of Irish politics, he who must be listened to, strikes again. The only way we can be free from the predations of the state is property ownership.
“They will come after your property, either by constitutional attack or using the judges.”
The Irish Freedom Party chairman is contesting the Ireland South constituency in the European Parliament elections on June 7.
Deputy Michael McNamara said he disagreed with President Higgins’ views on home ownership because if anyone owns a dwelling, it is easy to say you don’t need to own one.
“Many people across Europe even in countries with less home ownership than Ireland aspire to owning their own home,” hesaid.
“Because of Ireland’s history people want this security if they can of owning their own home.”
Asked about the personalised nature of Mr Leahy’s comments about the president, Deputy McNamara said it is a matter for him how he chooses to express his views.
“It reflects on him on how he chooses to do so. He is entitled to express his views in whatever way he thinks is appropriate. I wouldn’t have thought that was an appropriate way for me, but it is a matter for him on how he chooses to do so.
“I wouldn’t agree with how he expressed his views, but we have freedom of expression in this country as long as you are not inciting hatred and I don’t think his views are in that realm.
“In my personal view, the way Mr Leahy expressed himself detracts from the criticism he was making,” he said.
Michael Leahy is an architect and regional and urban planner based in Ennis County Clare. He studied at University College Dublin and the University of Virginia (USA) and established practice as an architect in Clare in 1986.
In addition to serving for two years as the president of Ennis Chamber of Commerce, he was a Board member of an Bord Pleanála from 2012 to 2017.
He has been involved in a variety of community and voluntary organisations in Clare for many years. He is a former chairman of the Clare Pro-Life Campaign and was actively involved in both the Nice and Lisbon treaty referenda in attempting to prevent the expansion of EU power.
He has recently become extremely concerned at what he describes as the “loss of liberty and freedom of the Irish people at the hands of an ever-expanding state”. He was a founder member of the Irish Freedom Party in 2019 and was elected vice-chairman in 2020 before he was elected chairman in March 2021.

Regarding home ownership, Mr Leahy stated the Irish Freedom Party (IFP) believes that it is very important to incentivise private home home-ownership because a functioning democracy cannot exist without the security of home ownership. When one has a property stake in a society it encourages responsible citizenship, he said most Irish people aspire to home ownership, something that sadly has become increasingly difficult to achieve in recent years.
The IFP support the removal of VAT from new houses for first time buyers.
It believes changes to building regulations have considerably added to the cost of house building and as such, grants for new-builds should be substantially increased as have grants for energy upgrades.
!The recent comments of President Higgins that a home ownership is not essential flies in the face of the aspiration of most Irish people. It is also consonant with the recently proposed referendum to delimit property rights.

“This referendum proposal to which the present parties signed up but which is now gone into abeyance pending the next general election, proposed that a right to housing would be enshrined in the constitution but in order to achieve this right, intended to be for all “residents” of the country in a matter how they arrived here, it was proposed to delimit property rights apparently in order to facilitate the transfer of property from the private sector to the state. This would be very slippery slope and would effectively remove the security of the ownership of private property. This ARP standard specific eligibility refugees accommodation recognition payment
“The IFP believe that a 15% tax rate should apply to those providing accommodation for rental in order to reduce rents. This would apply only to a single dwelling house per individual owner. At present, small landlords are fleeing the market because of the high tax rate and difficult bureaucratic structure. Bear in mind that the tax rate vulture funds for rental properties is 15% at present,” Mr Leahy stated.
The IFP would like to see the ARP scheme scrapped as we are a believe the tax incentives for landlords that rent property to ‘those fleeing Ukraine’ are unjust and discriminatory against Irish people.

“If a landlord has a choice to rent a property to a Ukrainian family or an Irish family, the landlord is rewarded by government for choosing the Ukrainian family, because the rental income for a Ukrainian family will be tax free. I believe this is an example of active discrimination against Irish people. It is unjust and unfair. We have a housing crisis and circumstances are particularly difficult for people trying to find rental accommodation. We need to respectfully re-think our priorities on this issue.
“When it comes to the allocation of social housing, the Irish Freedom Party will prioritise Irish nationals.
“We need to tackle migration, which is negatively affecting housing stock and causing inflation in the housing market.
We would like to see an investigation into the activities of vulture funds operating in Ireland, which we believe is driving the cost of property upwards. Vulture funds are capable of renting properties at a very low corporate tax rate typically 15% compared to the effective 52% of the private landlord will pay. It is a simple matter to remove rental residential income from the low corporate tax rate that companies enjoy. This would mean that purchase of new residential properties would not be as attractive to vulture funds will enable private individuals to compete on equal basis.
“We believe it is necessary to significantly relax building regulation requirements in respect of the renovation of existing buildings. At present, if 25% of the fabric of the building is altered the entirety of the building was brought up to modern building regulations standards. This frequently makes renovation of such buildings extremely difficult and expensive,” he said.


Dan Danaher

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